WJTV News Channel 12 - Bill To Track Sex Offenders Goes To Governor

Bill To Track Sex Offenders Goes To Governor

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Mississippi soon may be able to keep track of its sex offenders - literally.  If Governor Bryant signs "Lenora's Law," sex offenders who violate the state's registry system will wear a GPS tracking device so law enforcement can tell where they are.

The measure got final approval from both the House and Senate today.  State Senator Will Longwitz (R-Madison), the bill's lead author, said it's a good move for the state.  "The legislature did the right thing for public safety today. This honors Lenora Edhegard's memory, and will help protect people from sex offenders.  I appreciate Lt. Gov. Reeves' and Speaker Gunn's support for this bill."

Longwitz said he wrote the bill after the murder of a Rankin County woman in September 2012. Lenora Edhegard was killed in her home by Cortrell Rose, a repeat sex offender who has confessed to the crime. Rose lived in Brandon, but was registered in Hinds County. Longwitz said that if this law had been in effect, law enforcement would have known where Rose lived, and could have intervened.

In its final form, "Lenora's Law" - SB 2732 - allows for GPS monitoring of sex offenders who get convicted of violating the state's sex offender registry. If convicted, the offender would wear a GPS monitor that tracks their movement for the remainder of their sentence, up to five years.  It will also extend the residence buffer for sex offenders to 3,000 feet from a school (up from the current 1,500 feet), and it gives local governments the ability to notify their citizens when an sex offender moves in.  Sex offenders will bear the cost of the monitors.

"These are people who have proven they won't obey the law," said Longwitz.  "Now we won't leave compliance in the offender.  We will know where sex offenders are at all times, and can prevent them from striking again."

The bill was authored by Longwitz, and is co-authored by Senators Josh Harkins (Brandon), Sally Doty (Brookhaven) Brice Wiggins (Ocean Springs) and Giles Ward (R-Louisville), all Republicans.

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